Building the Right Flap Skeleton

It’s been a while since I was able to get downstairs and do a little work in the airplane factory.  I was focusing on completing some internal giveback project for work, which took up some build time.  The right flap isn’t going to take as much time to build for two reasons: 1. I fabricated some of the custom parts for them when I done the same for the left flap, and 2. I have a little more experience after building the left flap already.  Having fabricated the brackets, shims, and other little small parts, not to mention previously deburring all the flap parts earlier really helped make this build session go QUICK tonight.

Since the deburring work and shims were already completed, I was able to jump right into assembling the skeleton. Just like the left, I clecoed the FL-704 and FL-705 ribs to the FL-703, and then match drilled them.  Following that, I clecoed the ribs/spar skeleton to the bottom skin.  Van’s tells us that we can use shims if needed to make sure the FL-705 ribs are flush against the “rear spar” that is formed into the bottom skin.

I ended up having to trim 4 shims from the scrap aluminum that Vans ships.  I believe this was .0025″, I just grabbed what scrap I had and test fit it until I found one that fit the gap, and then I marked the shims on it and trimmed them out.  Once I had the shims trimmed, I rounded their corners and deburred their edges and clamped them into place using some side clamps so they could be cleanly back drilled using the rear spar from the bottom skin as a guide.

The next step is to trim and drill the AN257-P3 piano hinge to the bottom of the spar.  I used a straight edge and marked a reference line down the entire length of piano hinge for 1/4 spacing, and then clecoed the hinge to the bottom spar, making sure that the reference line was centered in the rivet holes.

Luckily another EAA Chapter 150 member had loaned me some extra cleco side clamps, and vise-grip style clamps, which came in REAL handy as I needed quite a few to make sure the hinge was securely clamped to the spar before drilling.  I also had a small helper tonight in the shop.  She was more concerned with taking inventory of my clecos:

After methodically and carefully drilling the holes for the piano hinge (as well as cleaning up the clecos my little helper left behind), I flipped the assembly over and began attaching the top skin to the skeleton so it could be match drilled.  I had already fabricated the FL-708 shims, so I just stuck them in their place when I clecoed the top skin so they could be match drilled as well.

Per the instructions, I clecoed the top skin to the top side first, then match drilled everything before flipping it over to cleco and drill the bottom piece of the top skin (it’s bent around to form the trailing edge).  Once I flipped it over, and match drilled the line of rivets remaining on the bottom portion of the top skin and then decided to call it a night. All that is left for this flap is to machine countersink the rear spar (where the piano hinge is), and then line-up and the doubler plates where the flap control rod meets the flap. I will leave that for another build session, as its only about an hours or so worth of work.  Here’s all the photos from tonights build:

Link to Google Photos Album:

Hours Worked: 2.5

Left Flap Assembly Part 3

I found a Harbor Freight 25% off coupon, so what better time to buy a bench vise 🙂 I wound up with a semi-cheap 5″ vise that should do all I need it to.  I drilled some mounting holes in my work bench and bolted it down and got right to work on bending the FL-706 doubler bracket.  I chucked it up in the vise, and then clamped some scrap 2×4 boards around the piece to make sure I got the bend to occur where I wanted it.  It worked out pretty good, I had to make a few trips back and forth to the flap rib to test fit, and bend a little more to get it perfect.

Once I had that 6.3 degree bend made, and had it lining up nice and flush against all the end rib, spar and spar doubler, I match drilled the doubler.  This was a bit tricky, as there is only one hole that is pre-punched in the rib and FL-706A doubler.  I used it for initial alignment, and then squared it up with the FL706-B doubler and then used some C-clamps to hold everything tight while I back drilled.

I didn’t get any photos of my C-clamps, but they were just clamped onto the forward end of the FL-706A doubler and the FL-706B doubler.  Then I drilled the holes into FL-706B using the holes in FL-706A as my guides, clecloing them as I went.  Once that was done, I back drilled the holes in the FL-704 end rib using FL-706A as a guide, again clecoing as I went to hold things still.  One that was done, I decided it was tie to cut off the excess material from FL-706B spar doubler, as I had left it on purpose to help with clamping and aligning.  I am glad I did that, since it worked out pretty nicely. My finger below is pointing to this excess that needs trimmed.

I trimmed it using my bandsaw and then removed both doublers as well as the FL-704 end rib to finish up the last little bits of work on them.  I need to open up the very end hole on FL-706A (in the trailing edge most end) to make room for the 1/4 bolt that connects the flap to the flap motor/pushrod.  It’s attached using a K1000-4 nutplate that goes on the inside of the flap.  The first step was to enlarge the #30 hole into a 1/4″ hole in both the FL-706A doubler and the FL-704 end rib.  I wanted to make sure this hole was drilled true so I chucked up my 1/4″ bit in the drill press and used it to enlarge the hole on the thick doubler.  Then, I clecoed the doubler back onto the end rib and used that new larger hole to match drill the end rib hole.

To make sure I got this lined up correctly, I picked out an AN4 bolt from the supplies and a K1000-4 nutplate.  I threaded the bolt through the doublers/rib and put the nutplate on the back.  Then I use a C-clamp to hold one leg of the nutplate so I could drill the other leg.

Then I back drilled the rib and doubler using the nutplate as the guide.  Once I had one hole drilled, I stuck a cleco in the new hole and removed the C-clamp an drilled the other hole in the nutplate.  Now that the holes for the nutplate were drilled, I had to countersink them.  We countersink one hold on the FL-704 end rib and then the other hole is actually in the Fl-706A doubler.  I used my countersink bit screwed into my deburring handle so I could gingerly countersink the thin metal on the rib.  I used a spar AN426AD3-7 rivet to check my depth, and then did the same on the doubler.

The last step for tonight was to countersink the bottom of the spar.  We are going to dimple the skin, so we need to countersink the spar to accept the skin dimple.  The reason we are not dimpling the bottom of the spar, is because we also have the hinge that gets attached to the other side of the spar flange.  Countersinking only the spar to accept the skin dimple is a much easier process than dimpling the spar and THEN countersinking the hinge to accept the spars dimple.  I clamped the spar down to my work bench to make it easier and then clecoed on the hinge.  Van’s tells us to cleco the hinge so that the hinge can act as a guide for the countersink bit’s pilot.  It actually worked out really well.

I clecoed the hinge using every other hole and then countersunk the empty ones using the microstop countersink.  I used a spar AN426AD3-7 rivet to help me gauge the correct setting for the microstop, and then used it about every fourth hole to make sure the depth is still correct. Once I had the holes done, I moved the clecos and countersunk the remaining ones.

One last little step before I take the hinge off.  Vans gives us two options for the hinge pin installation.  #1: you can drill a hole in the aileron mount to insert the hinge pin through and then into the flap hinge or #2: you can remove a few eyelets in the middle of the flap hinge and cut the hinge pin in two pieces to allow room to insert the hinge pins into the flaps from the bottom of the flap. What we are essentially doing is making a left and right hinge on the flap, and making room in the middle to insert the left and right hinge pins.  This is the method I think I will go with, so I went ahead and marked my hinges where the middle is.  I will cut the eyelets when I do the initial mounting on the wing.  This way I can make sure I cut them where I have room to safety wire them down somewhere.

And thats all I accomplished tonight.  The left flap is ready for hole deburring, and then dimpling.  I am thinking I will wait until I get the right flap to this same stage, and then just debur and dimple all the pieces to both flaps at the same time.  From there, it will be time to prep for priming, and prime, followed by final riveting.  I am still deciding if I want to continue spraying AKZO for the wing components, or switching to just alodining them. I’ll give it some though between now and then.  Here’s all the photos from tonights work:

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Google Photos Link:

Hours Worked: 3.0

Left Flap Assembly Part 2

Tonight I continued working on the flap, with the session starting off by measuring the piano hinge for the flaps, an then clecoing it on.  I picked out the proper piano hinge, AN257-P3 and then cut it to the prescribed length of 56″.  I think Vans has us cut it about 1/4″ to short as the rivet holes are really close to the edge on both ends of the hinge after drilling.  I think I will cut the other side a little bit longer.  First off was to mark the center line of the hinge so I can use it as a sighting line in the pre-punched holes.  My marking the center (1/4″ in as per described by the drawings), I was able to see my line in the pre-punched holes and made it easier to get my hinge lined up perfectly. Next up was to mount the hinge to the bottom of the spar using some cleco side clamps, C clamps and whatever else I can find:

Thankfully, a fellow EAA Chapter 150 member lent me a few of his cleco side clamps and some nice plier style clamps.  They came in REALLY handy as I only had a few clamps myself.   After I made sure the hinge was secured and aligned properly in all the holes using my sight line, I was ready to match drill the hinge using the prepunched holes as guides.

Eventually, I had my hinge drilled and was ready to move on to the next part of the instructions:  Fitting the top skin and match drilling it.  I dug my top flap skin from the inventory, and peeled off the protective blue plastic on the inside of the skin, the slipped it over my skeleton and clecoed it down to make sure it was aligned.

Once I had it all clecoed, it was time to match drill the top skin.  The plans tell us to match drill the ribs first, then the holes on the top side/top skin next, and finally drilling the underside of the skin to the bottom last.  I am guessing this to help keep the top skin from causing a twist, so I followed as prescribed.  The skeleton is now completely match drilled to the skins!

The last few steps I decided to knock out tonight was fabricating the FL-706A braces for the spar.  These are fairly thick pieces of aluminum, made from some of the AA6-125 1.5″ x 2″ angle aluminum stock that Vans ships.  The drawings has detail on how to fabricate these bits, and they are not very complicated.  I pulled out the stock, and then measured using my machinist rule.

I used my bandsaw with a fine tooth metal cutting blade in it.  It made quick, and good work of cutting these pieces to the right size.  Then I polished and smoothed off all the edges and corners of the brackets on my bench grinder. They look nice!  After that, I drew all my indicator lines on the pieces to mark where I needed to drill my rivet holes.  I used an 1/8″ bit in my drill press to drill the 5 holes in the spar-facing side of the bracket.

Now that I have these brackets made (made 2 for both flaps), its time to fit one of the brackets to the left flap that I am working on now, and then drill the last three holes using the spar as a guide.

As you can see above, I also made some reference lines per the drawings to make sure I had that middle line lined up with the middle hole in the spar. This helps me make sure I have the FL-706A bracket nice and centered in my spar flanges. The edge of the FL706A bracket needs to be flush with the edge of the spar as well. THE vertical black line is the 3/4″ mark that I still need to trim off the bracket, I am waiting to make sure that everything lines up nicely before making that last trim.  Then I clamped it down with some C clamps and back drilled using the pre-punched holes in the spar as my guide.

Now, its time to mark and bend the Fl-706B brackets to fit the inboard rib and spar.  The drawing calls for a precise 6.3 degree bend.  The reason we do this is because the inboard rib isn’t at a perfect 90 degree, perpendicular angle to the spar like the rest of the ribs.  It bends inboard by an extra 6.3 degrees, so we need to bend the Fl-706B to match.  This bracket plus the FL-706A bracket I made earlier for a reinforcement for the rib and spar, as this is where the rod comes down to raise and lower the flaps.  That torsional torque needs to be equally spread down the spar and rib.

I have my bend lines marked and was about to bend the brackets, and then hit a snag!!!!  My stupid little bench vise is too small and cheap to withstand the force required to bend this fairly thick piece of aluminum.  It’s a cheap, small clamp on style that I am not happy with.  I tried a few times with no luck so I decided to just call it a night before I end up hurting the part or myself.  I will go and pick up a proper bench vise tomorrow, since I have been needing one for quite some time.  HEY! We all need an excuse to buy more tools right?  Anyways, thats it for tonight.  This was a solid 4+ hour work session, and I got a lot done.  Here’s the full album:

Google Photos Link:

Hours Worked: 4.25

Left Flap Skeleton Assembly

Today, I decided to go ahead and start building the flaps.  It was a toss up between ailerons and flaps, and I didn’t want to fool with stiffeners right now, so flaps won.  I am skipping ahead to the flaps because its too cold to ProSeal fuel tanks, and I don’t want to take up valuable work room in the shop with the wing stands right now.  I read over the instructions for the flaps, and gave the plans a good study to see how they go together.  At this point in the build, Vans assumes you can make good decisions and read things so they don’t go into great detail in the instructions.  The flaps start off like any other control surface: Preparing the parts! I picked out the FL-703 front spar, FL-704-L and FL-705 ribs and the FL-702-L bottom skin and moved them to my bench.  I am doing the Left flap first, since it is the one represented in the drawings.

After stripping away the protective blue plastic on the ribs, and the inner surface of the FL-702 bottom skin, I polished up the edges of the ribs on the scotchbrite wheel, and then used a deburring tool and scotchbrite pad to polish the lightening holes in the front spar.  I went ahead and did the polishing on the ribs and spar of the right wing as well, since they are all the same parts. I figured I might as well go ahead and get them done now.  No photos of this process since its pretty much the same as my previous deburring/polishing work.

Once all the parts are polished and deburred, the plans has us start assembling the skeleton for the flap but clecoing the ribs to the front spar, and then match drilling all the holes. This is where it starts to feel like I am building an airplane again!

And of course, the obligatory selfie with the airplane parts to prove to the FAA inspector that I did indeed build this airplane 🙂

There is a section of the instructions that has us make 2 small shims that goes on the bottom of the outboard ribs.  These spacers are used to make sure that the top skin (it overlaps the rib and curves back around to the bottom)  sits nice and flush with the end ribs, and overlaps the FL-702 bottom skin perfectly. See my illustration below:

I followed the drawings and made up the shims.  The hardest part was finding the proper .020″ thickness aluminum to use for the shims.  I had to pull out my micrometer to measure the thickness of the trim bundles that Vans includes in each kit, and eventually found some scrap that would be perfect.  I then measured and trimmed out the shims per the plans.

Next up was to cleco and drill the bottom skin to the skeleton.  The skin is prepunched and lines up pretty perfectly against the skeleton.  However, as the instructions noted, it might be necessary to make some shims to fill in the space between the aft end of the ribs and the bent up portion of the F-702 bottom skin.  This bent up portion of the bottom skin actually forms what is referred to as the “rear spar” and its important that the ribs are securely fastened to this rear spar, but also not causing any deformation or bending.  I actually had to make up a few shims out of the .020″ aluminum to fit in between the ribs and the rear spar, and then drilled them using the holes in the skin/rear spar to line up.  I made sure to fully polish and round off the corners of even these tiny little shims. You can barely see these shims:

Once I had those shims made and drilled into place, I decided it would be a good stopping point for the night.  The next step is fitting the piano hinge to the flap and getting the measurements and alignment is pretty critical on that, so I will save it for tomorrow when I am refreshed.  It will be a good starting point for the next build session.  Here is the photo of my assembled flap skeleton clecoed to its bottom skin:

And here is all the photos from tonights build:

Google Photos Link:

Hours Worked: 3.5

Left Wing Skeleton Assembly and Drilling

After completing all of the rib prep, I was finally ready to start doing the skeleton assembly and match drilling for the wings.  The plans tell us to be very cautious of not using tank ribs for leading edge ribs, so I made sure to sort out the two and set the tank ribs to the side.  Then, I took several minutes studying over the plans to make sure of the proper orientation of the ribs, and picked out the parts I’d need to complete one wing.  I figured I could get one wing completed tonight, and do the other tomorrow night.  I am a bit confined when it comes to work tables and space to build the two wings at the same time, at least until I build my wing stands.

I started with the left wing, since that is the wing that is depicted in Van’s plans.  This way I wouldn’t have to worry about transposing the plans for the other wing on my first attempt.  The instructions tell us that the ribs have a left and right handedness to them, and explains how to determine which is which.  The plans also denote the handedness of the ribs, so it was easy to match up.  I pulled the main spar from its storage and moved my workbenches around to give it good support.  Then I methodically picked the proper rib, double checking it against the plans before cleco’ing it into place.  Eventually I had all the inner ribs clecoed to the main spar, and a wing form was starting to show up a little:

Next up was to fit the rear spar to the skeleton so I moved my benches around a little more to accommodate it and clecoed the rear spar to the ribs, making sure I had the proper orientation. The wing box is starting to come into shape!

Now, it was time to attach the few leading edge ribs to the front of the main spar.  Again, I referenced the plans and made sure I had the proper part number in the proper orientation and then clecoed them onto the main spar.  Finally!!!! Its starting to look like I am building an airplane again! Its really rewarding to see the wing start to take shape after spending so much time on prepping the ribs.

The big empty space left on the main spar in the background is where the fuel tank will attach, and I won’t build it until a few more sections later in the plans.  For now, I match drilled all the holes in each of the ribs to their final size. Then I disassembled the wing, taking the time to number each “station” of the ribs so that I can fit the exact rib back in its original location.  This may be overkill, and not needed, but I figured I might as well go ahead and label each station just in case.  Once I had it all disassembled, I vacuumed up all the chips from the main spar, and set these ribs to the side for deburring at another time.

Now, I need to decide what to do about wiring looms/harness/conduits. The driving reason, is that I need to drill the holes for the wiring and any conduit that I plan on using now, before I prime these ribs for final assembly.  I am still leaning towards following the Vans approved rib drilling guide found here: and using the Vans conduit for the bulk of the lighting, strobes, heated pitot and stall warner wiring.  Then opening up the tooling holes as prescribed in that guide for the coax for NAV antennas.  I’ll put some thought to this over the coming days, and may even try to do a wiring schematic.  Thats it for tonights session.  About three hours total, and I have a fully assembled, drilled and ready left wing skeleton. Entire photo album is link below from tonights build:

Google Photos Link:

Hours Worked: 3

Preparing the Left Elevator

I managed to get a TON of work done tonight, and worked a straight 4 hours on the section of plans titled “Preparing the Left Elevator”.  In a nut shell, I completely build entire left elevator, and have it disassembled so all the parts can be deburred, and the edges finished.  After that, I will shoot them in AKZO primer and then they will be ready to be dimpled and riveted. This is going to be a long post, since I got so much work done tonight, so hang on!

We start off the right elevator in pretty much the same fashion as we did the left, since they are almost identical (except for the trim tab). It starts by rounded off the top and bottom edges of the E-00001A doubler so that it will nest correctly in the E-702 spar channel.

After that, we cleco on the E-610PP and E-611PP doublers on the back side of the spar, as well as the E-00001A and E-00001B doublers on the front side.  These doublers are a part of SB-14-02-15  which was included in my tail kit.  Once all the doublers are clecod on, we match drill them to the E-702 spar.

After that, we straighten the flanges and flute both the E-703 and E-704 ribs, and then cleco E-703 end rib and E-704 counterbalance rib together, and then match drill them.  This takes a little time as I had to flute them in several places to get them straight and flush with each other.  In the end, they cooperated and fit together snugly.  Then Vans has us fit them to E-702 spar and match drill the holes to the spar. Once they are drilled, we remove the rib assembly from the spar to fit the lead counterweight.

This is where I messed up on the previous elevator and had to order a new E-713 counterbalance skin, and another E-714 counterweight.  That cost about $40, and they showed up at my house today! Talk about perfect timing! It takes a little bit of filing on the lead counter weight to get it to match the curvature of the E-713 skin and to fit snuggly.  I also double checked to make sure I had the orientation correct so I don’t repeat my mistake from last time 🙂 Once they counterweight has been shaved and filed down to fit good, we assemble the lead counterweight, the E-713 counterweight skin, and the E-703/E-704 rib assemblies to drill the counterweight.

When drilling lead, I decided to use a #30 drill bit in the pre-punched holes as a pilot, and follow it with the proper size #12 bit, using LOTS of Boelube to keep the bits lubricated. Clamping the assembly to the corner of my work table made this much easier to do as well.  I used my electric drill instead of the pneumatic because I need slow speed with lots of torque to drill the lead.  This worked out great, and the holes were straight and perfect.

Now that the counterweight is drilled, we remove it from the assembly and set it aside for now, this makes assembling the skeleton much easier to deal with. We then re-cleco the E-703/E-704/E-713 assembly to the E-702 spar.  Then we cleco on the E-705 root rib and match drill it using a #40 bit to the E-702 spar.

Its skining time now!  I clecod on the E-701-L skin to the newly built skeleton, making sure to keep the E-701 skin on TOP of the E-713 counterbalance skin. Next, Vans has us remove the clecos holding on the E-705 root rib to the E-702 spar, so that we can fit the WD-605-1-L elevator horn and match drill it to the E-705 and E-702.  I match drilled these to a #30 size drill.

Once we have the elevator horn drilled, I inserted the little E-606PP spar into the skin, and clecoed it to the E-705 root rib and E-701 skin. I also had to match drill the E-606PP to the E-705.  At this point, I have my entire right elevator assembled and ready to be match drilled.  I matched drilled the E-701-R skin to its skeleton using a #40 bit per the plans.

You guessed it…its time to disassemble the elevator so that I can deburr, dress the edges, prime, and dimple them.  At this point, I noticed that my cleco bucket was running pretty low:

After getting the elevator disassembled, I decided to continue on and finish up the last few little easy steps in this section of the plans.  I had to machine countersink the E-714 lead counterweight to match the dimple and screw, so I did this with my deburring tool, which worked nice. Then I used a #10 dimple die to dimple the E-713 counterweight skin to match. I checked all these with the screw to make sure it looked great.

Now, this is where it gets a little tricky.  The little E-606PP spar needs to be machine counter sunk on the top to mate with the dimples in the skin.  We machine countersink it because we don’t want the protruding dimple on the underside of the spar because the trim tab hinge gets riveted to it on the bottom. However, we are able to dimple the BOTTOM of the E-606PP spar so it will mate with the skin dimple, and because there isn’t anything that will interfere with the dimple protrusion on the spar.  This drawing makes it easier to see:

So, I deburred all the holes, and chucked up my countersink cage in my drill and countersunk every hole along the TOP of the E-606PP, checking each one with a rivet to make sure it was flush.  Then I used my squeezer and a 3/32 dimple die to dimple the BOTTOM of the E-606PP, except for the last two holes.  They were too tight to fit the squeezer, and the spar was too thick for the pop rivet dimple die, so I just machine countersunk the last two holes on the bottom.  Simple and easy solution!

Then I machine countersunk the two holes that attach the E-606PP to the E-705 root rib, orienting the countersink so that the flush rivet will go in with the flush head on the aft face of the E-606PP.  This will eliminate any chance of interference during the trim tab travel, and make it look nice and neat in this area. The plans said we could do the countersink on either side of the hole, so I chose to do it this way. Then, I dimpled the holes for the E-705 to R-702.  Vans calls for this to be machine countersunk, due to the sharp bend on the E-705 root rib, making it hard to dimple, but I was able to get my dimple dies in there and squeeze them without any problems. We have to use flush rivets here because the WD-605-1-L elevator horn fits over this intersection.  Lastly, the only thing left in this section is to bevel the edges of the E-713 counterweight skin so that the E-701 will overlap it very smoothly where they meet.  I used my file to work the edges into a nice bevel where the two skins meet.  This worked out very nicely on the right elevator, so I used the same technique here.

With that, the right elevator has been assembled and ready for all the parts to be dressed.  In the next few sessions I will work on deburring all the holes (so many holes deburred at this point!), dressing all the edges with the scotchbrite wheel and then priming them.  Follow that with dimpling and final assembly!  Here is the photo album from tonights work:

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Google Photos Link:

Hours Worked: 4

Riveting the Right Elevator

Its time to rivet up a control surface! The right elevator is ready to be closed up and riveted.  I have decided that I am going to rivet the bottom side of the skins, and leave the top side clecod down for now.  This way, I can hold off on ProSealing the trailing edge stiffeners until I have the rudder, and both elevators ready for ProSeal.  This will save me from having to waste so much of this stuff, and I can get all the ProSeal work done in one session.

So, tonight I begin with riveting on the E-713 counterbalance skin to the E-701 skin. We do this because two of the rivets would be enclosed inside the skin once we insert the skeleton, and not be accessible.  So, we rivet those two rivets with the skeleton out of the skin at first.  I used my squeezer to set these rivets.

Once those two rivets are set, its time to shape the counterweight.  I filed down the sharp corners to match the contours of the E-713 skin, and also filed down around the edges so that it would fit in the skin easier. The we loose fit the E-714 counterweight into the skin, and then the skeleton assembly gets inserted into the skin.  Its a tight fit trying to wiggle it all together, especially around the counterweight.  Eventually I got the skeleton all situated into the skin and then I clecoed every hole to make sure it didn’t twist or shift.

Now its time to rivet! I thought it’d be best to start at the counterweight and work my way up the E-713 skin, and all the way down the tip of the end rib.  There’s a few different lengths of AN423AD3 rivets being used here due to the different overlapping skins, so I made sure to use the right one in each hole.  I had previously lapped the edge of the skins so that they would sit nice and flush after riveting, so I didn’t have to do that here.  Once I had the end rib riveted, I worked my way down the spar and finally to the E-702 end rib. I was able to use my squeezer on all these, so they came out perfect.

Having the bottom skin riveted on completely, I left the top skin just clecod for now.  I will come back to it later on, ProSeal the stiffeners and close it up. The last few steps on this elevator is to finish attaching the counterweight and torquing it.  I dug through my parts, got the bolts, washer and nut that the plans called for and used them on the counterweight.  Then I used my beam torque wrench to measure the drag on the nylon lock nut (which was 5 inch/lbs), and added that to the the 20-25 inch/lbs that the plans calls for as the torque spec on these type of bolts.  In total, I torqued them down to right at 30 inch/lbs total and then use some CrossCheck (Torque seal) to mark the nuts and screw heads as being torqued.  This CrossCheck also makes it easy to inspect the bolts to make sure they have not vibrated loose.  The paint will crack if the bolt or nut has turned.

Thats all for tonight! A little over 2 hours total, and the right elevator is 95% completed, and will go back on the shelf until I am ready to ProSeal everything.  Here’s all the photos I took tonight:

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Hours Worked: 2.25

Riveting the Right Elevator Skeleton

After taking short break from the priming session, I dug back into riveting together the right elevator skeleton.  This will give the primer on those doublers some time to dry. AKZO dries super quick, so by the time I get ready for them they should be ready for me 🙂   Per the plans, Vans has us start out by riveting together the E-703 and E-704 ribs which creates the counterbalance assembly  This goes easy enough with a squeezer and some AN470AD4-4 rivets.

Next up the plans has us rivet the E-709 end rib to the E-702 spar.  I had to take caution here, because we use AN426AD3-4 rivets, which need to be dimpled and sit flush on the front side of the spar so that the WD-605-1-R elevator horn will sit flush against the spar.  I was able to set these rivets with the flush set in my squeezer and they ended up nice and flush against the spar.

Then the plans has us rivet on the E-703/704 assembly to the E-702 spar.  This is where things got frustrating.  I was able to set the two rivets for the E-703 end rib with the squeezer. However, the two rivets for the E-704 were in a much tighter spot and I couldn’t get to then with the squeezer.  So, I drug out the rivet gun and bucking bar, but the straight 1/8 rivet set would not line up with the shop head of the rivet because of the gun body, so I had to use the offset 1/8 rivet set.  The first rivet I was able to set pretty well with the gun and bucking bar.  The second one?  Yeah, not so much.  I had to drill it out and try again.  Luckily, the second time went better than the first and I got the rivet set.

I then decided to skip back up to the doublers and platenuts on the E-702 spar.  These were fairly easy to do, I just double checked that I had the right length rivets in the right holes, as we use three different lengths in these sections.  I also double checked I had the orientation of the platenuts correct as well, and then used the squeezer to set al these rivets.  I love the way it came out!

Finally, I decided to rivet on the WD-605-1-R elevator horn to finish off the skeleton.  Again, double checking the orientation, because it is possible to put this part on upside down if you’re not careful.  Then, I riveted in using AN470AD4-4 rivets and my squeezer.

This finishes up the right elevator skeleton, and in the next session, I think I will rivet the skin to the elevator, but I am still debating on saving that portion until I get ready to pro-seal the rudder trailing edge.  This way I can use the same ProSeal to bond the trailing edges of the stiffeners of the elevators. We’ll see how it goes.  Here’s the photos from tonights session:

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Google Photos Album link:

Hours Worked: 3


Rudder Final Assembly Continued

Tonight I continued working on the rudder final assembly.  I stopped by Home Depot and picked up some 1.5″ aluminum angle so that I could use it when I bond the trailing edge. It came in an 8 foot length, so I trimmed to be just a few inches longer than the trailing edge, finished out the rough edge on that cut and then marked the center of one side of the angle to help align my drill holes. I laid one of the rudder skins on flat against the angle and the lined up the mark I made with the pre-drilled holes in the skin.  Then I match drilled a hole to start and clecoed the skin and angle right into my work table.  Then, to keep from over-drilling the skin, I just drilled every two holes all the way through and clecoed.  For the remaining holes, I simply ran the bit for a few seconds to start a hole using the clecoed skin as a guide, and then pulled the skin off and finished drilling the holes through the angle.  I then laid the skin back over my holes and clecoed it in a few spots to make sure it was still lining up, and it was.

Then I set the angle aside and kept on working on the rudder itself.  I decided to fit the bottom R-710 rudder horn brace to make sure I could rivet everything in place with the brace installed, and luckily my squeezer will fit in the tight space of the horn brace and set the rivets easily.  I decided to use the AN470 rivets instead of the blind rivets that is optional for this part.  I used my squeezer to set the rivets and left the ones that the skin rivets too for later.  You can see in the photo below that the access hole in the R-710 horn brace gives just enough clearance for the squeezer to get in and set the rivets along the bottom rib.

After that, I decided to get the trailing edge ready for assembly before I cleco on the skins.  First I used the DRDT-2 to dimple the trailing edge of the skins, and the I used a new jig from Cleaveland Tools that makes countersinking the trailing edge wedge a breeze!  This thing is dead simple, its shaped to fit the angle of the trailing edge wedge, so that the working surface sits flush and allows all of the countersink cage to sit flush while countersinking.  This is something a lot of builders have a hard time with, and struggle to make a good jig, so Cleaveland made one from a solid piece of billet.  Here’s how it looks:

You can see how the trailing edge wedge sits perfectly in the groove, and the holes in the jig allow the nib on the countersink cutter to travel completely through.  This little $36 tool made this job so simple I was glad to have it.  I had both sides of my wedge done in about 30 minutes, counting the time I took to adjust the depth.


With the trailing edge wedge done, I was ready to cleco on the skins and make sure everything still aligned right before riveting them on.  I clecoed on both sides and then inserted the trailing edge wedge and clecoed it together.  My rudder is still in alignment and its looking great.  However, while I was sitting down admiring my work, I started questioning when I should insert the rod end bearings for the rudder mounts.  They thread into the plate nuts I installed into the spar, but the plans has some specific lengths they need to be, and it looks like its measured from the inside of the spar to the center of the hole in the rod end bearing.   Heres what I am talking about:

Of course, with the skins on, I wont be able to measure from the inside of the spar, and it looks like its calling for a distance of 51/64 in this particular instance.  So, I am going to ask in the forums if I should go ahead and install those rod end bearings before I rivet on the skins.  So, with that little dilema, I decided to call it a night and wait until I get some advice on how to proceed before I make it harder on myself down the road.  This is a good stopping point anyways!

Here’s an album of all the photos from tonights work:

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Google Photos album link:

Hours Worked: 3.75

Final Assembly of the Rudder

Well, I had some downtime, and didn’t get much done on the plane since I sprayed the primer.  I wanted to let the parts sit and the primer cure for a few days, but I wasn’t planning on this long 🙂  None the less, I got back on the ball today, and got some work done.  I want to finish up the rudder to the point of riveting the trailing edge, and then I will hold off on the Proseal until I need it for the elevator stiffeners as well.  So, lets build a rudder skeleton!

The work started off by gathering up and marking all the parts for the rudder.  Some of the marks were covered up with the primer, so I needed to find all the parts again.  I also took a little time to read the plans and get re-familiar with the rudder.  I had already deburred the parts before priming, so I needed to dimple the skins, spar and ribs. This went pretty quick with the DRDT-2, and using the pop-rivet dimple die tool to get the very end of the ribs.  I am still not sure how the heck I am going to rivet those things.

With all the parts deburred, dimpled, primed and ready to assemble, I began the work of final assembly on the rudder skeleton.  We start out  by riveting all of the reinforcement plates, R606PP, R607PP, and R608PP to the rudder spar R902. I also riveted on the K1000-6 nut plates to the proper sides of the rear spar.  I decided to leave these unpainted, since they have corrosion protection already applied.

Once the reinforcement plates are riveted on, I moved towards the bottom of the rudder and worked on the lower rib and rudder horn.  The R-904 has several different pieces that all fit together on the spar to form the lower assembly.  I attached the R-904 to the R-902 rear spar, fitted the R-917 shim, and finally fitted the R-405PD rudder horn with clecos.  Then I attached the K1000-6 plate nut to the assembly and riveted everything together.  There are several different lengths of rivets in this section, so I had to pay close attention and double check each rivet before setting it.

Now that the bottom of the skelton was done, I moved on to finish the top. Vans has us rivet the R-912 counterbalance rib to the rear spar, and then fit the R-913 counterbalance skin over the rib.  I attached the skin with clecos due to its thickness and the complex curve it has.  Then once I was happy the counterbalance skin was fitted nicely, I removed one cleco at a time and riveted it in place. It came out looking great!

The last step on this skeleton was to install the lead counterbalance weight.  I had pre-drilled and countersunk it a few weeks ago, but I still needed to do a little trimming to get the counterweight to fit around the rivet tails that were now sticking inside the skeleton.  I didn’t have to remove much material, so the balance shouldn’t be affected.  Then I secured the weight with the AN509 screws and torqued them down to 30 inch/lbs.  This is the 25 inch/lbs that is called for, plus the drag of the nylon lock nut, which I measured at about 5 inch/lbs.  I followed that up with a little torque seal to mark that I had them torqued, and also to show in case the screws start to work loose.

I called it a night at this point. I have a full rudder skeleton, and the next step is to cleco on the skins and start getting them ready to rivet, and then place the end rib on the top.  In the next session, I will cleco on the skins and make sure every thing is still lined up, and then use one of the skins as a guide to drill some aluminum angle for the trailing edge.

Heres all the photos from tonights work:

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And the Google Photos link:

Hours Worked: 4.5